Philosophy and Background
Spalding’s methodology is multi-sensory. By seeing, listening, speaking, and writing, this technique shows that learning styles are neurologically based, and that all of us are born with strengths and weaknesses.
The research for this program began when Dr. Samuel Orton, a neurologist, spent his career studying the function of the human brain in the “Learning of Language”. In 1937 he published Reading, Writing and Speech Problems in Children. Much like Maria Montessori, who began her work with children experiencing learning difficulties, Dr. Orton also thought this to be helpful for children with unique needs and challenges.
Then, Rolalda Spalding, a Phonics expert, worked under Dr. Orton’s supervision. She wrote, The Writing Road to Reading for all primary children. Instruction begins by teaching the sounds of and letter formation of the 71 “Orton” phonograms. A phonogram is a letter or group of letters which stand for one voiced sound in a given word. These phonograms provide for the common correct spelling patterns of the 45 sounds of English speech and are taught- in isolation-without any word or picture association.
Each child’s learning style is addressed. The children SEE the symbol, HEAR the teacher SAY the sound(s); they repeat or SAY the sound(s) from dictated, oral instruction. Margins and spacing, as well as letter formation, are all stressed from the beginning. The “learned” phonograms are then applied in written spelling using a special memory-device marking system. Each student, who has been carefully taught these basic writing and spelling skills, in this order, can be successful with initial reading because he/she is reading what he/she has written himself or herself.
Through research validated direct instruction, children are carefully taught listening, precise speech, comprehension, letter formation, spacing, margins, syllabication, correct spelling with rules, capitalization, punctuation, comparative analysis and analytical thinking skills.